Holland, Mich. - The Alma College football team fell 31-24 to Hope College on Saturday (Nov. 2) afternoon. Alma falls to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the MIAA with the loss while Hope improves to 7-1 and 5-0.
Alma had more passing attempts in this game than it had in any other this year. Ryan Stevens (Lowell, Mich. / Lowell) completed 19 of 35 passes for 315 yards, all of which are new career highs. Nathan Goralski (Romeo, Mich. / Romeo High School) also had a career day, catching nine passes for 181 yards and one touchdown, a 69-yard score shot from Stevens. Chase Hinkle (Concord, Mich. / Concord) had three receptions for 58 yards and Joseph Schaefer (Lowell, Mich. / Lowell) also had three catches for 55 yards and one touchdown.
Normally a dominant running team, the Scots had a season-low 26 rushes against Hope. Dustin Soloman (Macomb, Mich. / Dakota High School) led the ground attack with 27 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown. Austin Spratling (Grand Rapids, Mich. / Wyoming Kelloggsville) had seven touches for 18 yards and Stevens had six carries and a one-yard touchdown run.
Conversely, Hope leaned heavily on its ground game. Quarterback Mason Opple had 23 carries for 87 yards and three touchdowns from one, four, and one yard out. Kenyea Houston also scored on the ground.
The Flying Dutchmen were first on the board when Opple plunged past the goal line on their second possession. Alma got the ball back and fumbled three plays later, resulting in another Hope touchdown to put the Scots in a 14-0 hole after one quarter.
Alma capitalized on a 13-play, 70-yard drive on its next possession to make it a one-score game. On 4th & 1 from Hope's 5-yard line, Soloman ran for four yards to keep the drive alive. Stevens found the end zone on a quarterback sneak two plays later to make it 14-6. Hope would kick a field goal as the half expired to take a 17-6 lead at the break.
Hope drove 41 yards on its opening drive of the second half but missed a 43-yard field goal. Stevens found Goralski for a 69-yard score three plays later to make it 17-12. In a one-on-one matchup, Goralski made his defender fall with a double move at the line of scrimmage, giving Stevens an easy target.
Hope extended its lead early in the fourth quarter with a four-yard touchdown run from Houston after it got the ball on Alma's 35-yard line. After kicking the ball back to Alma, the Flying Dutchmen picked off Stevens on his first pass attempt and scored again on the ensuing possession to make it 31-12.
Soloman found the end zone on a one-yard run to bring Alma to within 13 points with under six minutes remaining. After forcing a Hope punt, Alma got the ball back with 2:13 remaining and drove 86 yards, culminating in a six-yard touchdown pass from Stevens to Schaefer as time expired.
Alma returns to Bahlke Field next Saturday (Nov. 9) to face Olivet College. The Comets sit in second place in the MIAA with a 4-1 record. Alma suffered a 37-34 setback to Olivet last season.